Restaurant review: Back to The Ivy for the new autumn menu
- Credit: Archant
There can be few restaurants in St Albans which I have anticipated returning to post-lockdown with the same mix of excitement and trepidation as that felt for The Ivy. It provoked so many positive memories of special evenings out pre-Covid that part of me was worried the atmosphere would b lost with government restrictions and the new “masks away from table” rules.
Of course, any concerns proved to be unwarranted, with every effort made to prevent diners from feeling awkward or ill-at-ease. Temperature checks are taken at arrival, and serving staff are masked and suitably distanced, but apart from the odd missing table, there’s little which really feels out of place or uncomfortable. This is still The Ivy we know and love.
As is traditional, there’s a new autumn menu featuring some dishes reflecting the change of the seasons including roasted butternut squash risotto and fig and pistachio feuileté, but all of the classic choices which customers have come to expect can also be found alongside them.
We started off with The Ivy’s Special G&T, which comes with Beefeater Gin, lavender, cucumber and line, served with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic, a perfectly refreshing start to proceedings!
For my starter, I selected one of the autumn dishes, a beetroot carpaccio which came with Cabernet Savignon dressing, horseradish sauce, blackberries and hazelnuts. It was a combination which you might not have expected to work, but actually delivered on all counts, neatly fusing the earthy flavours of the beetroot and horseradish with the sweet tang of the blackberries and dressing, and offering a nice crunch from the nuts.
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My partner continued the carpaccio theme with yellowfin tuna, which came with a citrus ponzu dressing, miso mayonnaise with toasted sesame seeds, edamame beans, crispy shallots and mizuna.
She said: “I always fall into the trap of having the same things from the menu, but tonight I tried the yellow fin tuna carpaccio, and I’m so glad I did! The tuna melted under my knife and the miso mayonnaise had an amazing flavour which really works. I love edamame beans so the addition of these was a bonus and they were lovely and fresh.”
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I realised I had yet to sample one of The Ivy’s celebrated steaks, having been distracted by other dishes on my previous visits. Deciding to rectify the situation, I selected the grilled, thinly-beaten minute steak, which was served with peppercorn sauce, onions, thick cut chips and watercress. It was a surprisingly large dish, despite the hammering the meat had obviously taken, and the steak was tender and rich, which went down perfectly with a large glass of Cotes du Rhone.
Selecting from the Market Specials menu, my partner opted for turbot meuniere, a whole turbot served in beurre noisette, lemon, caper and parsley, which she accompanied with sprouting broccoli in lemon oil and sea salt, and a serving of the irresistible zucchini fritti.
She said: “I love fish, and like having something different when I can, so I steered myself away from my favourite fish and chips. The fish was quite simple but beautifully cooked and I chose zuchinni fritti instead of chips - they are seriously amazing!”
Unfortunately we were both too full for dessert, although I would have definitely opted for the feuileté if I had room, but then that was my fault for helping to finish off the fritti!
It’s wonderful to be back at The Ivy and enjoying some of the great food St Albans has to offer, all the while confident that customers and staff alike are staying safe and taking the necessary precautions.